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Friday, July 10, 2009

Well They do that on TV!! I seen that on That Animal TV Channel!

How many times have I heard that? More times than I can even remember.

I had one call that the woman was outraged that I wouldn't crawl under her house to go after what she described as a "Big Ol' Vicious Pitbull". She watched that Animal Channel show. They do it all the time. Well ma'am, we don't.
There are just certain things that we are not authorized to do, it's a safety thing. I'm going to use a big word here, LIABILITY. We don't crawl under houses, period. We don't go up in attics or roof crawl spaces. We don't climb trees or ladders and we don't climb down cliffs.

Number one, we don't have the equipment or in some cases the special training to do half these things. Number two again, it's a safety issue. And Number three, the possibility of property damage.
I very recently had a situation that got this response. Call was simply given as a sick opossum laying in a tree. I get to the call and met with the home owner. She looks at me a little shocked and kind of looks behind me as if expecting someone else to be following me. I asked her to show me where the opossum was located. She leads me through her house and begins telling me how last week she has another opossum that died in her backyard and we had come out to pick it up. Now she was concerned that this on was also sick and would die. She told me how she has taken the garden hose and sprayed it to see if it would move. It did but not very much.

Now we are in her backyard. she take me over to the side of her yard. She then points upward towards the tall branches of this FREAKING HUGE tree. Where she was indicating had to be a least 25 to 30 feet up and the tree was even taller than that.

I still didn't see it. She keep saying "It's there, it must be there, It's in a hole up there."

Oookay. I'm not disputing that there MAY have been a opossum up there at one time, but it wasn't there now. But she was insistent. I told her regardless, I wasn't going to be able to get to it anyway. I explained the policies about our restrictions. It didn't seem to sink in at first, because she asked if I was going to call someone to bring equipment to get up there. I explained it to her again. And then she said it. "I've seen that animal show and they are always getting animals out of trees."

You know, I am half glad that these programs are on the air, because they have given the Animal Care and Control agencies a really good boost in the public eye, BUT on the other side of the coin, I think that the public thinks that some of the heroic rescues that are broadcasted are the norm for every agency. This is I believe far from true. But they saw it on TV so it must be.

Anyway, I told her that if is comes down and is dead or alive and still in her yard we will come back out. She seemed to understand, after explaining it to her, twice.

Another time I had to go through this was also recently, just a couple days before the last. This one was a DOA deer in a creek. Well actually it was in a large corrugated drainage pipe. Another officer had received the call the evening before, but due to the late time, he called and spoke to the calling party. She apparently told him that all it would take is two officers and some rope. Ummm...not.

I got to the location and it's not accessibly by the road. I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to the caller who insisted that it was easy to get to, all we would have to do is shimmy down the embankment and we can get to the carcass in the pipe.

She even said she was able to get down there in sandals. I don't think so. Not all the way at least.

One side of the road is thick with ivy and thorny blackberry brier, as well as a 6 foot fence. The other side of the road was a steep 12-15 foot drop to the creek bed, The embankment covered in slick oak leaves and sticker bushes. No trail, no path, just a 90 degree drop.

So I call her back and let her know there is no way for me to safely get down there. She starts to tell me that it is county property and that we are responsible for removing it and that we are just going to be getting a lot of complaints as it starts to rot and smell.

I again tell her that there is just no way to get down there and bring it up. I gave her the whole safety issue speech. She still wasn't convinced. She then told me that I could access the other side of the fence in the gated community that she lives in.

So I followed her directions, as she made it sound like it would be very easy and simple.

It wasn't.

She said there was a path to a trail behind her house and her neighbor's and it led right to the pipe. Ok. The "path" was several stepping stones between her house and her neighbor's house. The "trail was what the deer and maybe other wildlife followed to get to the creek. Down a slope, that went behind her neighbor's house. Now the fence was about 4 feet from the side of the house, and there was a huge air conditioning unit between the fence and the house wall. About a foot of space if even that between the fence and the AC. I was already thinking that there was no way that even two officers could drag dead weight deer up this incline and past this AC. But I was committed (or should have been committed for going this far).

I walked down to the edge of the creek bank. It's about a 15 foot drop straight down. And there are all these jagged boulders at the bottom. Ok this is NOT going to work.

So I called the CP back. I still haven't seen this DOA deer, and I'm just wondering how the heck she saw it. She had told me that she could see it from her house, but there was no way as her house was on the other side of her neighbor's house and unless she has x-ray vision, there is no way to see the pipe.

I told her that we were not going to be able to retrieve this deer. I told her were I was and that I didn't even see the deer. Her reply was that if I squatted down and bent over to the side I should be able to see it somewhere in the middle of the pipe.

OH come on!!

She again starts talking about the smell and how we are going to get lots and lots of complaints when it starts to smell. And then she tells me how it's going to attract wild animals like coyotes and vultures and who knows what else.

Um, ok, this is where I usually interject with my "Live in a nature area next to the River and Wildlife area" speech. But I didn't. I just told her that nature will just have to take it's course.

I had already spent close to a hour and a half on this call. A DOA call. I was done.

She did thank me for trying, but had to throw in that we will be getting all these calls.

Another time, two other officers had previously responded to this call for a DOA deer "in CP's backyard".


ACO1 got the call first on a rainy day. Deer carcass is described in her notes as being down a steep embankment, will need two officers to respond.

Ok, so ACO1 and ACO2 return on second day, still rainy. Report says officers made attempt to retrieve carcass, unsuccessful.

Too steep, muddy and slippery. Hazard to officers. This was explained to CP that officer safety prevents AC from retrieving carcass. So call is closed.


CP calls back a few days later and speaks to my supervisor. My supervisor send me out to assess the situation. I'm instructed to call him to report if recovery is not possible.

OK, not sure why my fellow officers notes were in question. I trust their judgement. But I'm not going to argue with my supervisor either. So off I go.

This is a upscale neighborhood with many custom homes in a wooded and very hilly area. CP takes me out onto her multi-level redwood deck, over to the FAR corner and points down this ravine to creek at the bottom, across the creek is a tree, now if I lean this way juuuuust right I can see the hindquarters of a deer carcass partially behind a tree.

Yep, about 50 feet of more, hard to judge actually with steep angle of the ravine. This would require rappelling gear. Then the matter would be about how to get the carcass up through the thick and not to mention painful blackberry bushes.

And I know the area, the creek looks innocent enough from WAAAAY up here, but I happen to know that it's moving fast, it's cold and has about 2-3 feet of boot sucking silt on the bottom.

So I break the news to the CP. There is no was we can risk officers to go down for the carcass. I explain the hazards to her and that our department doesn't have the equipment to retrieve the carcass.

She isn't satisfied, she wants to know why I can't just do down there and cut it up and bring it back up. She watches those Animal Channel Shows all the time! (Insert eye roll here)

So I get my Supervisor on the phone, describe the situation to him and let the CP talk to him. She hands me back the phone after about 5 minutes, long enough for him to tell her the same thing I did.

So I politely told her that this was part of being one with nature in a wooded area. As I was leaving I also politely advised her that the carcass would most likely be gone in a few days or a couple weeks, especially since it appeared that a very large predator had already consumed most of the soft parts of the carcass. I had just a week prior to this picked up a Deer carcass about 5 miles from this location in a similar residential area that had very distinctive punchers in the skull and neck with the abdomen completely cleaned out. I patted her cute little fluffy-kins Bichon on the head and left the scene.

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